Even a very young child can know the God that loves them. A great organization, Child Evangelism Fellowship International, has developed the ability to display this belief by providing training for persons that feel specifically called to Christian children’s ministry or one who has a heart-calling to disciple a specific child. Training begins with the basics of child development such as how children react to their environment, first realization of their surroundings and their thoughts at certain ages. An adult must know these basics before he or she can respond to children’s questions and comments or offer them insight into their world.
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) bases the knowledge of the God of Scripture, and His son, Jesus, from the Holy Bible. All that mankind knows about God can be first found there. Children are able at an early age to learn Bible verses that have simple concepts such as “God is love ” or “God loves me,” as well as “Be kind to one another” so children can learn the correct way to relate to God who created them and to others around them. Parents are our children’s first teachers so by parenting the parent, CEF gives parents tools to begin to develop those important values within their children almost from birth. Parents, in their daily interaction with their children, bend those tender hearts toward the nature and ways of God. They are pointing their children in the right direction at the very beginning of their lives.
As children enter the educational system, CEF seeks to get permission from the school and parents to continue to help children in an after or before school program called “Good News Club.” This is 45 to 60 minutes of Bible verses, songs, games, stories and simple prayers which all reveal how God interacted, in history and now, toward us, His greatest creation. The format in the literature is designed to present a lesson fact from Scripture and relate it to the child’s life. Activities are developed to help children internalize the lesson fact so that it may prove helpful and meaningful to their lives. For this age child, questions, such as, “Can we pray for my sick dog?” or comments, such as “Let’s pray for my mom who hurt her arm” abound. Each song and game relates and reviews the concepts taught from the Bible verse and stories. These might be “God cares about you when you feel sad” or “God hears your prayers.” Repetition is a great teacher and CEF uses repetition in all that it does. As children learn the very first steps toward reading skills in their kindergarten classes, words from Bible verses, songs and games are learned as well.
For the school-age child, CEF has a more in-depth curriculum as children are invited to participate in Scripture reading and memorization, as well as learning about mission work and contributing to mission projects. More participatory games and more involved action songs are introduced. Children begin to ask more in-depth questions, such as “How can God help me with a difficult friend?” or “Does God care when someone hurts my feelings and can Jesus help me forgive them?” One-on-one counseling is used to help these children. They are given an opportunity to pray aloud about what is in their heart and to respond to the God who loves them.
For the teen, CEF offers a program called CYIA or Christian Youth in Action. These teens are trained how to help others know how much God loves and how to respond to Him, as well as their peers and the rest of the world. Opportunities are presented to do mission action in their own community. They are trained to lead “5-day Clubs” in which youth do Good News Club sessions for younger children at day cares, housing projects and in public parks.
CEF International is a ministry and organization focused on helping children to know the God who loves and cares for them. I am thankful to have been a part of this fine organization for twenty years.